MANILA, Philippines — Augusto Syjuco, former head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and former lawmaker, filed on Friday, December 15, complaints of plunder and mass murder against former president Benigno Aquino III and former Health Secretary Janette Garin over the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy.
News reports said Syjuco likened the dengue vaccine mess to the Mamasapano incident in 2015, which led to the deaths of 44 police commandos, close to 20 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and at least three civilians dead in clashes that followed a covert government operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in Maguindanao.
Syjuco based his complaint on news reports and asked the Ombudsman to further investigate the issue and provide evidence as well.
The complaint was filed a day after Aquino and Garin appeared before the Senate investigation into the controversy and defended the purchase of P3.5 billion worth of vaccines from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur in 2016.
In a radio interview, Garin said: “I welcome the case. Maganda po ‘yan na nag-file si congressman Syjuco dahil mabibigyan po kami ng (It’s good congressman Syjuco filed the complaint because it give us a) platform to air fully everything that transpired, to submit all documents without bias, at para ito po ay maging pagkakataon na malagyan ng closure ‘yung issue na ito. Para po maipalabas ‘yung katotohanan (so this is a chance to bring closure to the issue. So the truth can emerge).”
Garin acknowledged that Syjuco was a rival in Iloilo politics as she lamented how politics entered the anti-dengue vaccine controversy.
“Nand’yan ang DOH sana na on top of the situation pero parang ang dami nang pumasok at medyo napunta na po sa pulitika ang usaping ito. At hindi po itong makakatulong sa kalusugan ng ating mga kabataan (The DOH should be on top of the situation but it seems so many parties have joined and the discussions are veering into politic. This cannot help the cause of our children’s health),” she said.